Ramblings: Thoughts on Athanasiou, Makar, Pageau, Bjorkstrand, Vatrano, Zacha, Blackwood, Glass, Gusev, Kassian and more (Nov 11)
First, a look at some players.
J-G Pageau, 5 points in 5 games and 11 on the season. Here is a player I’ve always liked and now he’s getting a chance in an offensive role because, well, there’s nobody else. I’ve had him on my fantasy squad (full keeper, points-only) on two occasions, bailing on him once and dropping him once. So of course he breaks out now, right? But lucky for me, Ottawa won’t have any 60-point players so he’s capped no matter how well he does. His career high is 43 points and I think he’ll beat it. Barely. So I guess not really a “break out” per se.
Frank Vatrano, started off with zero points in five games and has eight in 12 since then. The latter trend is what he’s capable of doing. He becomes a 40-point player this year and takes a run at 50. This year he hits his Breakout Threshold and his background numbers are real solid – his IPP points to his driving the offense when the team scores while he’s out there, and his CF% verifies this. His 5on5 S% indicates very poor puck luck (just 2.06%) so watch him, he could be at the start of something here. And when he gets going, linemate Vincent Trocheck will get going.
Andreas Athanasiou was off to a slow start but he has five points in his last six games. He has also had poor puck luck at 4.76% 5on5 S%. Robby Fabbri, early on, has shown some chemistry with him. Could be the spark he needed. Fabbri now has points in both games he’s played for Detroit.
How to play Fabbri? I believe he’s found his place. And with continued chemistry with AA he can be a 60-point player on this team…is what I’d say if he was an 80-game player. But he’s a 20-game player and very high risk (injury). So I’m still not giving up anything of value to acquire him, but I’d absolutely claim him off waivers or give up a later draft pick or lesser (but more reliable and healthy) player for him.
I was recently asked if I feel the same way about Oliver Bjorkstrand as I did preseason. Absolutely. Bjorkstrand is still getting the ice time and he’s really pushing. It’s cost his team some goals against but it’s also generating chances. On one hand you have him at minus-5 in his last six games. On the other hand, he has taken 26 shots in that same span. His S% is low at 7.7% (for him) and his 5on5 S% is 5.6% which indicates a correction upwards. His Corsi numbers are nearly at an all-time high for him so he’s creating more chances than he’s giving up. Just wait on him. Strong second half. He just needs to find that flow. But, as with Ottawa, Columbus players have a ceiling on their production for this year so temper expectations (as I’m sure you did at the draft to begin with).
Florida d-man Mackenzie Weegar tallied his 10th point on Sunday – already closing in on his career high (15) – when he took a puck to the face and left the game. He is doubtful for Florida’s next game.
With three points on Sunday, Evgenii Dadonov has 16 in his last 15 games. He still has that sweet spot on the Jonathan Huberdeau – Alexander Barkov line and line has quietly become one of the best in the league.
While Sergei Bobrovsky still tries to find his mojo in the new system, Sam Montembeault has been struggling just as much. Combined, the two sit at a SV% of 0.886. Despite that, the team is still winning games. This is an awesome team. I love this lineup. And I said I would give Bob 20 games to get things going again and I still think he will. Even playing ‘mediocre’ I think he can get 40 wins this year. Right now he’s on pace for about 36 wins playing mostly sub-par. Montembeault coughed up five goals on 34 shots and he gave up five on 30 shots in his prior start (he still got the win Sunday!).
Two more assists for Ryan Strome. He is a permanent part of Artemi Panarin’s line and therefore is a permanent part of your 60-plus-point aspirations. That’s right – like Josh Bailey and Brad Marchand before him, he’s breaking out at 26. Or about two years after we gave up on any breakout.
I still take Jacob Trouba over Adam Fox, though Fox had more PP time yesterday again. Trouba is a better all-around player and that will pay off eventually. He’s still only 25.
But I take Tony DeAngelo over both of them, especially in points-only formats. We’re only 15 games into the season, but I’ve seen enough. He has 12 points in his last nine games, and stretching back to last year he has 34 in his last 51. He’s all-offense and he’s always been all-offense. And he’s showing it at the NHL-level. Pairing him up with Brady Skjei has really opened things up for him.
Corey Perry has seen less than 13 minutes of ice time in each of his last four games as his Dallas coach begins to see what his Anaheim coach saw. He’s been busted down to the fourth line while rookie Denis Gurianov is getting prime time.
Connor Hellebuyck has posted a 3-0-1 record over his last four starts and hasn’t given up more than two goals in that span.
Back on October 14, Pavel Zacha picked up three points. Up until that point (five games), he had yet to see any PP time. Coach Hynes thought “Hmm, maybe there’s lightning in a bottle here”. He promptly put Zacha on the second unit. So far Zacha hasn’t tallied a single PPPt. Sunday he didn’t get out there on the power play at all, for the first time since that day back in October.
Cory Schneider is still struggling. I thought, based on his final month last year, that he was out of it. And he got the starts early on. But Mackenzie Blackwood has taken over. Blackwood hasn’t been great, but since October 17 he is 5-2-1, 2.33 GAA and 0.918 SV%. Those are solid and very promising numbers – enough to keep Schneider on the bench.
PK Subban has two points in his last nine games and is minus-5 in that span. I don’t think that, at 30 and coming off a season in which he missed a month due to injury, Subban has hit his wall and is in full decline. I think it’s a new team, a new system and he is a pretty good ‘buy low’ candidate right now. His ice time is still way up there, his PP time is, unfortunately, the second unit and something like that will knock a dozen points off of his expected 55 (give or take, if healthy all season). But his decline to 40 or 45 points this year will be due to the PP reduction. And if the pucks start going in for him again, he’ll get that PP time back. His advanced stats point to a rebound and again, with a new team give him 20 games (i.e. four more) to get going. The Devils will start scoring soon. Their top-end offensive guys are only just starting to wake up.
Nikita Gusev played just 9:16 and was stuck on the fourth line. His possession numbers have been horrible, but he’s still getting PP time and he’s still firing shots on goal (at least two SOG in each of his last five games). In league formats with flexible transactions you would be tempted to drop him and grab him later when he finds his groove. But if that happens in my league, I’d claim him right away and sit him on my bench for at minimum two weeks.
Cody Glass was seeing 14 to 16 minutes of ice time for the first dozen or so games to start his rookie season. But lately that’s been cut. In four of the last six games his TOI dropped to below 12:30. And now he’s centering Brandon Pirri and Cody Eakin on the CBC line (just made that up). Glass needs one of those patented Paul Stastny injuries in order to become a fantasy asset again this season.
Jonathan Marchessault has points in six of his last seven games.
Vegas and Detroit fired 19 shots on goal, each. It tells me the confidence the team has in their goaltender (Jonathan Bernier for Detroit, Malcolm Subban for Vegas). That is to say – none. It was all about clogging up the neutral zone, keeping the team on the outside, and blocking shots. Just absolutely do not trust the goalie to make the save.
Robin Lehner faced 57 shots against the Leafs, stopping 53. That makes seven of his nine starts this season Quality Starts, with one bad one.
Another game another goose egg for Erik Gustafsson. That makes him pointless in 11. He’s had eight SOG in his last three games and has averaged over two minutes of PP time each game. It’s just not happening for him. Here are the numbers that should be better – his IPP is 21.1%. Last year it was 50.4%, and prior to that it was around 40%. At worst, he should be at that 40% mark, he’s just not touching the puck at the right times currently. His personal S% is 0.0%. Last year he scored 17 goals, which was a little high (given his history and style, I’d think 13 or 14 is right). He should have at least two right now. At any rate, luck or no, market correction or not, he has to start doing something. I doubt the 11-game pointless drought will be allowed to reach 20 before we start seeing healthy scratches again. I still rate him a ‘buy’, though I roll expectations down below 50 points now.
Gustafsson was given 2:11 of PP time Sunday, while Adam Boqvist saw 0:36. Boqvist also saw just 12:33 overall, which is a low for him.
Auston Matthews had four assists and 10 shots on goal. He’s been on absolute fire lately with 12 points in his last six contests.
William Nylander’s two goals gives him eight points in his last nine games. Leafs’ fans and haters have quietly put their pitchforks away.
Mitch Marner is out “a minimum of” four weeks with an ankle injury – and at that point he will be “reassessed” by medical staff. That makes it 12 games at minimum.
Line combos for Toronto with Marner sidelined:
To interpret the above – Coach Babcock went with Kapanen in Marner’s spot early on, but the Leafs were getting their asses kicked so in the last two periods he went with Kerfoot. So it’s Kerfoot’s job to lose.
I’m winning two of my three keeper leagues right now, I’m pretty pleased to share. In the Keep 12 one, this is due to solid keeper decisions (even if Tyson Barrie has been horrible), bounce-back goaltending – and a solid waiver claim in one Zach Kassian. He has been fantastic and Sunday he added three points to go with three SOG and a Hit.
Also, yeah yeah yeah McDavid had a hat trick and Draisaitl got four assists blah blah. But Kassian!
Columbus recalled Elvis Merzlikins from his conditioning stint in the AHL. He lost his one start there, but was pretty good in stopping 28 of 30 shots. Give him time. Joonas Korpisalo is in over his head and I think Elvis takes over by midseason.
Cale Makar is the first rookie defenseman in 39 years to get 17 points in his first 17 games, and the fourth rookie defenseman to ever do it. Larry Murphy was the last, back in 1980.
See you Wednesday as I cover for Cam.
- Ramblings: Surprises, Disappointments, & Everything In-Between (Dec. 4)
- Ramblings: Marner returns; updates on Strome, Spurgeon, and Landeskog; Fiala - December 5
- Fantasy Take: John Hynes fired as coach of Devils
- Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: J.T. Miller, Anze Kopitar, & Brady Tkachuk
- Injury Ward: Dahlin, Backstrom, Landeskog, Fleury, Marner & Hughes
- Capped: Teams with free-agent uncertainty
- Eastern Edge: Storylines from around the East
- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)